A decision by the body that oversees agricultural land in B.C. may become a significant dip in the road for the star of a popular Tappen-filmed TV show.
In a May 29 decision, the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) gave its reasons why it would not support an application to retain and expand current non-farm uses at A-4439 Trans-Canada Highway, specifically the two hectares of the property that is in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
The property includes several buildings, residential and workshops including Mike Hall’s shop, featured on the TV show Rust Valley Restorers. Submission of the application to the ALC was supported by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) board in December 2021. According to a CSRD staff report, the application, submitted by Ed Vizniak, was triggered after one of the tenants on the property began construction of a building associated with an auto restoration business without the required building and development permits, or authorization from the ALC. A stop-work order was issued on March 25, 2021. Staff explained ALC authorization was required before the CSRD could issue a building or development permit.
A related report received by the CSRD, made by consulting firm Associated Environmental, referred to Vizniak as the property’s owner, and Hall as the “informal co-landowner.”
Asked by the ALC if the proposed non-farm use could be accommodated on lands outside of the ALR, the applicant replied: “No, this proposal is to deal with long standing buildings and uses in the ALR plus a new partially constructed building for Rust Valley Restorers and a relocation of vehicle parking for the Auto Museum.”
In its decision, available at alc.gov.bc.ca, the ALC remarks the property contains several residences and non-farm uses within various buildings.
“In 1984, the ALC approved an antique auto museum… on the Property, and then in 1996, approved the expansion of the Auto Museum and construction of a storage building,” reads the decision. “Since that time, the non-farm uses on the Property have expanded without approval of the Commission.” The ALC panel reviewing the application found the unauthorized uses and structures have “degraded the agricultural capability of the land,” and chose to deny the applicant’s proposal to “legitimize the unauthorized auto-related non-farm uses and the relocation of unauthorized vehicle parking.”
“To do so would encourage the landowners to degrade their land through non-farm uses, then seek the ALC’s forgiveness,” reads the decision. “Non-compliance should not be used as a tactic to force the Commission’s hand.”
As result, the applicant may continue to use already approved structures, but unauthorized uses are to be relocated to a “more appropriate location.” The ALC, however, said it would defer enforcement actions for two years.
Asked about the decision, Hall expressed concern but opted to refrain from commenting as he waits the 60-day period the ALC has to review the decision to determine if it should be reconsidered. It is up to the ALC chair to determine if a decision will be reconsidered.
The ALC advised the applicant to wait the 60 days before acting on the decision. Afterwards, the applicant has one year to submit a request for reconsideration.
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